[Haskell-cafe] Re: 1,000 packages, so let's build a few!

Duncan Coutts duncan.coutts at worc.ox.ac.uk
Mon Feb 2 20:32:03 EST 2009

On Mon, 2009-02-02 at 10:07 +0000, Neil Mitchell wrote:
> Hi
> > So actually just having more Windows users subscribed to cabal-devel and
> > commenting on tickets would be very useful, even if you do not have much
> > time for hacking.
> I believe that as soon as a Windows user starts doing that you'll
> start asking them for patches :-)

Actually I deliberately didn't say that. I would be happy even with some
people dispensing advise and testing things.

> There are a number of reasons that we have fewer Windows developers:
> * Some of it comes down to social reasons - for some reason it seems
> to be socially acceptable to belittle Windows (and Windows users) on
> the Haskell mailing lists and #haskell.

Yes plenty of it is social issues. Some of the perceptions in the other
direction is that Windows users tend to expect everything to work and
not be prepared to help. This may be what they're accustomed to but it
tends to rub open source programmers up the wrong way.

> * Some of it comes down to technical issues - for example not having
> cabal.exe bundled with GHC 6.10.1 on Windows was a massive mistake
> (although I've heard everyone argue against me, I've not yet heard a
> Windows person argue against me).

I think if it had been bundled with ghc-6.10 you'd have heard lots more
Windows people complaining.

> * Part of it comes down to most developers not being Windows people.
> * A little is because Windows is a second class citizen even in the
> libraries, my OS is NOT mingw32 - mingw32 is not even an OS, its a
> badly typed expression! How would you like it if your OS was listed as
> Wine? Things like this tell me that Haskell isn't Windows friendly, at
> best its windows tolerant.

Note that cabal/hackage does not classify it that way.

> * Things like Gtk2hs, which Windows users need building for them,
> don't release in sync with GHC, which makes it hard to use.

Hardly anything releases in sync with ghc and it's unrealistic to think
that it can or should. The special problem for gtk2hs is that it has to
be distributed as a binary so it's guaranteed not to work with new ghc
releases where as most other packages will still build from source.

Again this comes down to lack of developers and lack of access to
Windows hardware. If we had the infrastructure we'd have auto-builders
to make releases with new ghc releases. Perhaps that's something we can
get people to work on. More automation is good. Building all of hackage
on windows and reporting the results would be very useful to everyone.
Not once but continuously.

> * Windows machines don't usually have a C compiler, and have a very
> different environment - while the rest of the world is starting to
> standardise.
> I gave up on fighting the fight when people decided not to bundle
> cabal.exe with Windows - and now I'm too busy with my day job... Now

The more I think about it the more I think that we fortuitously made the
right decision not to bundle cabal-install with ghc-6.10. We didn't
decide to do it due to immaturity but in hindsight that would have been
an excellent reason. As I said before, I hope we'll be able to fix
enough of the things that it'll be ok for the first platform release.

> I'd say Duncan is the most vocal and practical Windows developer, even
> overlooking the fact he doesn't run Windows.

I'm going to obtain a license and set up a VM.


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